The US Department of Education Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowships provide opportunities for PhD candidates to engage in full-time dissertation research abroad in less commonly taught modern foreign languages and non-Western-European area studies.

In 2021, USDE awarded a total of eight DDRA Fellowships to University of Michigan applicants for a total amount of $258,366. Of those, three were awarded to History of Art students. Congratulations to all! Read below our students' plans for their fellowships:

Ross Bernhaut

Northeastern face of Gwalior hill.

On his Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) Fellowship, Ross Bernhaut will be pursuing a longue-durée study of the architectural development of the fortified hilltop city that towers hundreds of feet above the congested urban sprawl of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, India. Between the early medieval and early modern periods, Gwalior hill was coveted by a variety of religious groups—Hindus, Jains, Muslims, and Sikhs—as well as various regional and supra-regional polities. Throughout its long history, Gwalior hill has witnessed an extraordinary array of architectural interventions, including but not limited to the foundation of numerous Hindu temples, the fabrication of hundreds of colossal Jain sculptures and rock-hewn sanctuaries, the construction of royal palaces, the establishment of funerary monuments and civic structures, and the desecration of many of these very same buildings and images. Ross’s project endeavors to reconstruct the original appearance of the hilltop by analyzing dislocated sculptures, reconstructing iconographic programs, investigating the adaptation and transformation of structures over time, and utilizing textual and material evidence to postulate which buildings may have once stood but no longer remain. It also seeks to understand how subsequent interventions responded—formally, spatially, and conceptually—to existing structures on Gwalior hill. Ultimately, the project hopes to expand our understanding of the role Gwalior hill has played in the political, social, religious, and architectural landscape of northern India, and contextualize its specific history within regional developments in hill fort urbanism

Michelle Al-Ferzly

Dish (Condiment Tray). Earthenware, relief moulded and painted under a transparent glaze. Made in Egypt by an artisan from Basra, Iraq, 9th century. 14cm x 16cm. British Museum, 1889,0706.75.

With the support of the Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship (DDRA), I plan to visit museum collections at the Louvre in Paris; the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the David Collection in Copenhagen; and the Islamic Art Museum in Cairo. Over the course of nine months of travel, I plan to conduct research on objects held in these collections as part of my dissertation project “Adab Oblige: The Art of Medieval Islamic Dining, 850-1450.” My project investigates medieval Islamic dining and eating culture through a series of case studies of ceramics and metalwares from the period, which functioned as eating and drinking vessels. Thanks to the Fulbright Hays, I will immerse myself in a wide corpus of medieval Islamic objects to understand how they operated in dining contexts in Egypt, Syria, Central Asia, and Iraq between the ninth and fifteenth centuries.

Holley Ledbetter

My dissertation project explores objects of wonder in the Fatimid world. While these objects were originally crafted and displayed in Cairo, many of the objects have found second homes in western European church treasuries, private collections, and museums across the globe. This reality has made my research on Fatimid objects of wonder quite the logistical challenge. The Fulbright-Hays fellowship is an incredible opportunity that will allow me to carry out dissertation research in various Islamic art collections across London, Paris, Berlin, Florence, and Cairo during the 2022-2023 academic year.